What is sexual identity?
'Sexuality' is about how you see and express yourself sexually - like who you have a crush on, who you want to go out with, and who you want to have a sexual relationship with.
As you get older, you will be trying to figure out lots of aspects of who you are, including your sexuality.
It’s not really known why some people are ‘straight’ while others are gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual, or queer. But some researchers think that there might be things that happen in our bodies from very early in life that shapes our sexuality. In fact, researchers say that one in four families will have a family member that identifies as being LGBTIQA+.
There are lots of ways that people describe their sexuality and who they’re attracted to. It is OK to be attracted to people of the same-sex or none at all. Everyone has the right to be accepted for who they are! Feeling comfortable to be yourself is important to your health and wellbeing.
How do I know what my sexual identity is?
Making sense of your sexuality takes time. Here’s what you need to know about sexuality in general:
- Some cultures and religions believe sexuality is a ‘choice’ and assume that being straight is ‘normal’ and the way everyone is born. But sexuality is NOT a choice. It is different from person-to-person and is a natural part of how you’re born and who you are!
- It’s normal to question whether you’re straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual or queer. Feelings of uncertainty, confusion, and curiosity are a normal ongoing part of trying to understand your sexuality.
- Most people know from very young who they are attracted to and want to have relationships with. For others, it can take until adulthood or longer to make sense of this.
- Your sexuality can be the same all your life or you might decide to describe yourself differently as you learn more about who you want to have relationships with.
- Just because you describe your sexuality one way now, it doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind later on. This doesn’t mean you’re ‘confused’ or ‘choosing’, it just means you’re still learning about yourself and who you want relationships with!
Does questioning my sexuality mean I’m…?
Understanding yourself takes time, so it’s normal to have times where you feel unsure about your sexuality. But keep in mind:
- Having a crush, sexual thoughts, or experimenting with someone who is a different sex to people you’re usually attracted to - doesn’t automatically mean you’re gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer or even straight.
- You don’t have to be dating or sexually involved with someone to know that you are straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual or queer. You might be dating or sexually involved with someone and still not feel sure about your sexual identity.
- You may not have any sexual attraction or sexual interest in anyone. This is normal too.
For someone people, realising that they are attracted to someone of the same sex can be a confronting, confusing and emotionally difficult time.
Sadly, these feelings are usually because of the negative views people around us may have about the LGBTIQA+ community. Because of fears and concerns about being accepted, many people feel pressured or scared about sharing their sexuality and may choose to keep this a secret to fit in.
Feeling pressured to keep your sexuality secret or expressing yourself in a way that is unlike who you are can be upsetting and distressing. Over time, this can lead to mental and physical health problems.
What can I DO to help me make sense of my sexual identity?
If you’re still unsure about your sexual identity, here are a few suggestions that may help you make sense of things:
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